2020 town sales tax reports show slight increases in overall business revenue
December sales tax reports from Breckenridge, Frisco, Dillon and Silverthorne provide insights into business trends in each town for both the month of December, which is typically a busy time of year for Summit County, as well as 2020 as a whole.
Despite COVID-19 restrictions that were tough on businesses, Dillon, Silverthorne and Frisco reported slightly higher total sales tax revenue in 2020 compared to 2019, while Breckenridge saw a decline. However, in December, only Silverthorne and Frisco reported an increase in year-over-year sales tax revenue.
In Dillon, sales tax revenue was down about 1% in December 2020 compared to December 2019. However, the town finished the year slightly up in sales tax revenue with an increase of about 0.2% compared to 2019, thanks to a profitable summer and early fall.
For some months, the town saw significant increases or decreases in year-over-year sales tax revenue, including a notable 27% decline in March and a 17% increase in October. While there were large declines in revenue in March, when the COVID-19 shutdown closed businesses, and November, when the county went into level red, there was a steady increase in year-over-year sales tax revenue from July through October.
Dillon’s lodging tax revenue increased dramatically at the end of the year, including a 213% increase in November and a 73% increase in December. The year ended with a 9% year-to-date increase in lodging tax revenue.
According to Silverthorne’s preliminary sales tax report, December sales tax revenue was up 9% year over year. While town Finance Director Laura Kennedy said that metrics are not final due to late filings and year-end adjustments, the report estimated a 3% total increase in sales tax revenue in 2020 compared to 2019.
“Despite the numerous shutdowns and public health restrictions that decreased capacity for restaurants, hotels/short term rentals, and retailers; the town’s sales tax revenues were slightly higher than 2019,” Kennedy wrote in a memo to the Silverthorne Town Council. “Sales tax is the primary revenue stream for the town of Silverthorne and thus these unexpected positive revenue results were a pleasant surprise.”
Kennedy noted in her memo that some other town revenue streams decreased more than anticipated due to the duration of COVID-19 restrictions, and additional costs were incurred from town grants, paid staff furloughs, extra sanitation supplies and remote work supplies. However, facility costs were under budget, and there were revenue increases from development and real estate related fees, as well as the town’s $409,000 CARES Act reimbursement.
Silverthorne’s business sectors were split, with four sectors showing a decline in year-over-year sales tax revenue in December and four showing an increase. Retail was the driving force of increased sales tax revenue, with building retail, consumer retail and online retail all showing year-over-year increases. Lodging sales tax revenue was down, but barely, with a decline of less than 1%. The Outlets at Silverthorne, which reported a decline in sales tax revenue for every month of 2020, showed the highest rate of decline of the eight categories in December, with an 18% decrease.
In Frisco, the total year-to-date sales tax revenue in 2020 increased by 2.5% compared to 2019. In December, revenue increased by 2% year over year. The arts and crafts and office business sectors saw major increases in revenue, increasing 443% and 189% respectively. However, the arts and crafts boom only amounted to about $8,000 in sales tax revenue in 2020.
The restaurant sector in Frisco, which saw a year-over-year decrease of 24% in December, brought in over $121,000 in sales tax revenue. Other Frisco business sectors that showed revenue declines in December were clothing, hotels and inns, recreation, retail, utility and vacation rentals.
Breckenridge reported a decline of about 11% in sales tax revenue in December 2020 compared to December 2019. Four of Breckenridge’s six business sector categories showed year-over-year sales tax revenue declines in December, including restaurants and bars, which saw a 37% decline; and short-term lodging, which saw an 11% decline. Aside from weedtail sales — recreational and medical marijuana — which was up 23% in December, only grocery and liquor sales showed an increase — up 4%.
“For the year, net taxable sales are currently behind 2019 by 7.44%,” Breckenridge’s financial report read. “The weedtail sector experienced the highest growth (in 2020) with 12.95% over 2019.”
While sales tax revenue was down, Breckenridge’s December real estate transfer tax revenue was up 30% year over year. The town finished the year with real estate transfer tax revenue up 16% in 2020 compared to 2019.
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